So, as I'm planning and wriitng for my series, I have devised ways to keep active: album reviews. Here's Lemonade by Beyonce.
I heard two things about this album before I listened to it (besides its critical acclaim): that it was about Jay-Z's infidelity, and that it featured Black Lives Matter content that was highly controversial for Rich White Guys everywhere. This, along with the fact that it was by Beyonce, whom I've adored since birth, persuaded me to listen to concept album known as Lemonade.
1. Pray You Catch Me- The opening track and very well written. In this song, Beyonce is becoming suspicious of Jay-Z and is hoping to catch him cheating, or hoping he learns of her suspicion. It's a very simple and well-composed track that features layered voices, striking percussion, and lyrics that feel too personal to be faked.
Notable Line: "But even that's a test, constantly aware of it all."
2. Hold Up- The second track on Lemonade is definitely the most pop-friendly. Tropical influences, great vocals, and of course being by Beyonce, a well-known pop icon, all influence why it SHOULD have been a summer radio banger, yet, unfortunately was not. If there's one weakness to this song, it's the production. Something about the instrumentation and samples clash, creating a warzone between a fun jamaican tune and a moody "F U" trap song.
Notable Line: "I know that I kept it sexy, I know that I kept it fun, there's something that I'm missing, maybe my head for one."
3. Don't Hurt Yourself- This song is VERY different from about 98% of Beyonce's discography. Quite a few factors are reasons for this: the rock production, Beyonce's Janis Joplin-like growls, and, of course, the feature of Jack White. Jack White is the lead singer of an alternative rock band known as the White Stripes. Beyonce is one of the most awarded and nominated pop icon of all time. Needless to say, no one saw this collab coming. This track's theme is anger, and boy does it fit. Beyonce's vocal distortion, the sirens in the background, and the guitars and drums all send one message to Jay-Z: watch out. The chorus' punchline, "If you hurt me, you hurt yourself. Don't hurt yourself." is very clear on what Jay-Z needs to do.
Notable Line: "I am the dragon breathing fire. Beautiful man, I'm the lion. Beautiful man, I know you're lying."
4. Sorry- First things first, the title of this track is misleading. At this point, Beyonce is apathetic beyond belief. She's not sorry, says the entire chorus. She's the one lying now and she doesn't feel bad. It makes you, as a listener, feel empowered, which is a feat in itself. The production is also a very high point. Soul trap was generally awful for the enitrety of 2016, but Sorry was an exception. The 808's never felt out of place, and the electronic vocals used in the intro and throughout the chorus never felt weird or creepy.
Notable Line: "You only want me when I'm not there, better call Becky with the good hair."
5. Six Inch- Six Inch is hands down one of my favorites on the album. And while Beyonce is great on the track, the main star here is The Weeknd. The Weeknd's guest verse is really just the first verse. A little unusual, but nevertheless a great choice. Lyrically, the song is about a girl who's killing it in the club- she's getting money, wearing bomb ass heels, generally slaying everyone's life- but by the time we get to the bridge, we learn how this girl fits into the storyline. The girl is Beyonce, in the club because she feels empty. Apathy turned out not to be as great as she thought and she begs for Jay-Z to come back. The vocals from both The Weeknd and Beyonce were golden, and the production was sleek but unique, radio-friendly but not poppy. Why Beyonce didn't release it to radio is beyond me, but, hey, it's a nice hidden gem.
Notable Line: "She's too smart to crave material things.:
6. Daddy Lessons- Not many pop artists can pull off a 180 degree genre switch mid-album, but HOLY WOW BEYONCE CAN. Daddy Lessons takes influence from Texan country and New Orleans folk, and creates a surprisingly great country song. The song's lyrics describe Beyonce's relationship with her father along with his death. This may seem out of place in the story until Beyonce sings, "My daddy warned me about men like you." From here, Beyonce's true heartbreak is shown. Production wise, this song is better than most actual country today, with New Orleans horns, a strummed guitar, and backing vocals that really add to the authenicity.
Notable Line: "With his right hand on his rifle, he swore it on the Bible." (The actual most Texan thing I've ever heard)
7. Love Drought- Beyonce's anger and apathy is long gone by this track. Now, she's trying to find out how to fix her relationship, how to end the "love drought". I don't really have a lot to say about this song, except for the electro-soul elements that really give it an otherworldly feel. All in all, a nice, chill track. Recommend for relaxing or trying to sleep.
Notable Line: "9 times out of 10 I know you're lying. 10 times out of 9 you know I'm trying."
8. Sandcastles- I know I talked emotion on Pray You Catch Me, but god DAMN that was nothing compared to Sandcastles. This song reminices on Beyonce and Jay-Z's relationship, and is a true power ballad. The voice cracks sprinkled all over the track at this realness to it that most artists can't produce. A very sincere, heartfelt song with mazaong writing, production, and vocals.
Notable Line: "When every promise don't work out that way."
9. Forward- Many people consider Forward an interlude due to its short length (only about a minute and a half) but I still think its a highlight of the album because Beyonce sits back and lets the feature, James Blake, sing lead vocals. A majority of the lyrics are the word forward, but it still stands as a great track due to the vocals and production.
Notable Lines: NONE
10. Freedom- This song has been my absolute favorite ever since I've heard it. It's my alarm, my workout song, my everything, and rightly so. The lyrics can be interpretted in many ways- freedom from a relationship, Black Lives Matter, anything, really. It just has an empowering vibe brought by the powerful vocals, thumping percussion, and all around BIG sound. On top of that, Kendrick Lamar's verse brings a heavy political statement backed by a great beat that is hard to one-up.
Notable Line: "I'mma keep running cause a winner don't quit on themselves."
11. All Night- This track is the last track of the storyline, and a nice conclusion. It talks reparation and forgiveness, and is very mellow. The tropical elements don't clash with the very strong vocals or the piano like Hold Up does, and the backing vocals repeating the verses gives in a churchy vibe that I'm particularlly fond of.
Notable Line: "Trade your broken wings for mine."
12. Formation- This is it. The big song everyone's at least heard of. It was performed at Superbowl, it was a really controversial video, it was what SHOOK republicans everywhere. All because it featured HEAVY AF Black Pride, which is actually really great. It follows the same basic structure of 7/11, so you can tell its not meant to be taken TOO seriously, but it's still a great, fun song.
Notable Line: "Y'all haters corny with that Illuminati mess."
Overall, I really enjoyed this album. The final score comes out as an 85, but keep in mind that a Beyonce 7 is like a Fifth Harmony 10. I feel like this album is so versatile yet personal and that anyone could find at least one song they like.
Please, request any albums you want reviewed next and I'll get to them!